Tatiana Furley, SETAC Latin America President and Helena de Assis, SETAC Latin America Immediate Past President
Since the publication of the article Towards Sustainable Environmental Quality: Priority Research Questions for Latin America, in which the Global Horizon Scanning Project (GHSP) results were presented, much has been done to increase awareness of the results and to establish new research funding opportunities in Brazil.
Initially, the project was presented to the Federal Brazilian Funding Agency (FINEP), and together with the São Paulo State Funding Agency (FAPESP), three of the 20 priority questions were selected as the main theme for a call for proposals. The call was launched and announced during the World Water Conference held in March 2018 in Brazil. In addition, the scientific program of the 15th Brazilian Congress of Ecotoxicology, ECOTOX 2018, which was held from 1–4 September 2018 in Aracaju, Sergipe, Brazil, was built around the top 20 questions from the GHSP.
One of the special sessions during ECOTOX 2018 was titled “Status of Priority Environmental issues in Brazil: Opportunity for Research and Innovation” and chaired by Tatiana Furley and Helena de Assis. The purpose of the session was to provide information to researchers on the status of, as well as the knowledge gaps around, seven of the top 20 questions in Brazil, including:
- The impacts of pharmaceuticals in aquatic ecosystems
- The impacts of microplastics on aquatic biodiversity
- The production of cyanotoxins and risks to human health
- The development of environmental effects monitoring protocol for activities related to natural extraction and pulp and paper production
- The efficiency of current environmental regulations and their implementation and execution
- The effectiveness of protected areas to protect against pollutants
The outcome of the session will form the basis for scientific research and new calls for proposals from state and federal funding agencies.
In addition to the seven scientists that presented during the session, the closing talk was given by Ana Cristina Rosado Carneiro, FINEP manager. She presented a variety of requests for proposal calls for scientists from academia and business to submit proposals pertaining to the top 20 questions from the GHSP. The attendees’ participation was very enthusiastic, and many questions were asked. One result from the session was a letter from SETAC to FINEP suggesting the 20 top questions be included in the next calls for proposals. Also, the speakers of the session are working on an opinion article for the journal Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management (IEAM) about the status of the top questions in Brazil.
Whereas the developments above relate to the Brazilian federal level, we also had very productive meetings with the Brazilian state funding agencies. Furley had a meeting on 10 September with the secretary of the Espírito Santo (ES) State Environmental Agency (SEAMA), the directors of the Espírito Santo State Environmental and Water Resources Institute (IEMA) and the president of the Espírito Santo State Funding Agency (FAPES) about GHSP. From this discussion, the most important research questions for the state of ES were selected and presented on 13 September to 25 scientific professors in order to stimulate them to develop projects in the selected areas for the three requests for proposals calls currently open.
Helena de Assis had a meeting with the directors of the Paraná State foundation (Araucária Foundation–FA) on 19 October. At the meeting, she presented the GHSP results with the purpose of helping them to address some of the questions for the next call for proposals. Since FA has a good relationship with FAPES, the idea brought forward from the meeting was to bring the most critical issues to the Brazilian States Foundation’s board and to propose the formation of a partnership between state foundations and the federal government to encourage and launch new calls around these themes.
We will continue to publicize the GHSP results to other states in Brazil and other Latin American countries so that we can expand the important work on the priority GHSP questions in Latin America.